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App developed at UW may make it easier to diagnose concussions

PupilScreen, developed by the University of Washington, uses a smart phone to make it easier to diagnose concussions.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- The University of Washington has likely found a way to make it easier to diagnose concussions right on the football field.

That would be possible with a new app.

The app works this way: A coach or parent just holds a smart phone's flashlight up to the injured athlete.

A camera records the athlete's pupil and reveals whether or not the player has a concussion.

The app is called PupilScreen

"There would be no training. People would just slide their phone in, shine the light and let it do its thing," said Alex Mariaakakis, a doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering..

The phones camera records how the athlete's pupil reacts to its flashlight. If healthy, the pupil should shrink, but a concussion would diminish that reflex.

It's similar to an old-fashioned flashlight test, but PupilScreen takes data, analyzes them and tells a trainer whether there is a concussion.

Kennewick High football coach Bill Templeton trusts the current system.

"It's very comprehensive, and if there's any doubt at all, the kid sits," he said.

Still, he welcomes PupilScreen.

"I have 3 sons playing football right now. And every kid is somebody's son, he said. "If we can get that technology, it'd be incredible."

There will be more clinical tests this fall, and the app could be available in two years.


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